I refer to a letter from Charles Farquhar in last week’s edition of the Sentinel-Times (1/10/13 p28) and Phillip Island and San Remo Advertiser. In his letter Mr Farquhar was critical of council and some council officers based upon his perceptions and understandings of the organisation, which need correction. In his letter, Mr Farquhar states that “the old style of local government management style of town clerks has long gone in most municipalities and it is long overdue to be gone in Bass Coast”.
It is difficult to understand where Mr Farquhar gets his information from. In fact, the town clerk model does not operate in the Bass Coast Shire, nor does it apply in any council in Victoria since the role of municipal clerk was abolished by the Kennett government 20 years ago! He goes on to refer to the new council as an “incompetent bunch of councillors”. It’s easy to make unsubstantiated negative comments about a group of people who at least nominated for the recent council election, were elected and put in considerable time and effort to serve the ratepayers! He then criticises Cr Drew for making positive comment about council’s budgets. Mr Farquhar bases this criticism on his “examination of the books”, which he states shows “that for years the council has overtaxed ratepayers each year and then underspent its budget”.
What Mr Farquhar seems to have ignored in his “examination of the books” is that any under-expenditure that has happened generally relates to capital works projects. With such projects, it is not uncommon for delays to occur in their finalisation for a wide range of reasons. One example of such a delay is where a special charge road construction scheme is appealed to VCAT and construction cannot proceed until the matter has been deliberated on by VCAT. This can take months. Sometimes there are technical problems that delay a project such as wet weather.
In any case, where projects are delayed, they are rolled over into the next financial year, as are the unspent funds. This means that the allocated funds are not unspent, but simply spent in the subsequent year.
Mr Farquhar then goes on to criticise the Mayor, Cr Clare Le Serve for “giving us the boring box and dice about how difficult the process was going to be to fill the shoes of the departing duo”. In fact, the Mayor’s column makes no reference to any duo. The column simply updates the community on the process of appointing the next CEO. One would think that this is an important matter of interest to the community and especially Mr Farquhar who seems to take a critical interest in these matters.
Allan Bawden, CEO